Dear PoP – What can one do About an Annoying Barking Dog?

Big Dog Barking like crazy, originally uploaded by thrashfall.

Ed. Note: photo found on Flickr not the dog in question.

“Dear PoP,

I am a dog lover (we have 2) and so while the dog is annoying I am really upset at the owners. This dog is fenced in an empty lot that is over-run with weeds and debris. It stays locked up inside the fence all day and has never been out. It has a big tent with a dog house under it, and the owners come by at least once a day, so it gets adequate shelter and hopefully food and water but little exercise or love. The owner says that the dog is from a long line of military attack dogs and he is training it according to some German military dog school to do God only knows what. (clearly not training it to lick babies faces) The dog barks all day and all night at everything. It has become beyond annoying for everyone in the surrounding houses. Isn’t there noise violation laws?

Also, I just can’t believe that it is legal to keep a dog locked up in an empty lot that you (possibly) own in a neighborhood that you don’t live in. The owner shows up on bike everyday to “train” the dog for a few hours and then takes off. Can you really just buy a lot and put up a fence and house your dog there? The lot isn’t even properly maintained. Finally, if the dog gets out he is going to seriously injure or kill someone. Is it legal to own and train a dog in this manner? There are lots of little kids in the neighborhood and I just feel it is only a matter of time before someone gets hurt. I have talked to several neighbors and all of us are very upset. Animal Control has been out twice and apparently approves of this and the city has been out twice and apparently approves of the current state of the trash strewn and overgrown weed infested lot. This dog needs a new home and I need help on how to get this done. Any suggestions from the PoP Nation would be most helpful.”

This seems like a very sad situation. We sorta addressed this issue last December when Albemarle, MD was going to pass an ordinance stating if a dog barks for more than 30 minutes it’s owners could be taken to court. At the time folks didn’t think the police would be able to enforce such a law. But what do you guys recommend in this particular instance? I wonder if you could talk to the owner and mention that the barking has become a problem? Or should animal control be called? And, per the reader’s request, does anyone know DC’s laws regarding noise violations?

77 Comment

  • I once had inconsiderate dog owning neighbors once, nice people really, over in Adams Morgan, but their dog barking ruined nearly every evening, I asked again and again that they do something, and never, never, well somtimes, but not really, as if they had a right to leave their dog unattended barking, and barking, and barking, and barking, and barking………. It haunts me to this day, argh…….

  • do doggy chill pills exist?
    i’m sure its legal for the dude to keep his dog that way, but damn , that sucks.

    maybe PETA could be of some help on this one… they gotta be good for something.

  • PETA would say I am infringing on the dogs right to bark.

  • Please see this thread in the Mount Pleasant Discussion forum.

    Here’s a link to the municipal regulations.

    Long story short: Animal Control can’t enforce the barking dog noise provision, but MPD can write a ticket (up to $300) IF they can hear the barking noise.

  • I have a great recipe for roast barking dog.

  • We just moved from the street where the dog lives. If it is legal to keep the dog in such inhumane conditions then your only hope is to complain about the fence. I “think” that a 6 foot chain link fence is not legal, correct? Anyone know?

  • I would love to know the answer to this. One of my neighbors has 4 dogs (2 pitbulls and 2 small dogs). They do not have a fenced yard so they are alternately tied to the side fences and baby gated (all together) into the 3’x3′ back landing. The dogs bark and whine all day and night. If anyone walking by says anything to the dogs the neighbors complain that they are harrassing the dogs.

    I often wondered if there was any recourse.

  • You can find devices to help train dogs not to bark…

    As for an uncaring owner, there is not much there you can do.

  • Also, PETA is against the keeping of dogs as pets whether they are taken care of and loved or not.

  • You could sue for loss of the “quiet enjoyment” of your premises under D.C. law. It’s a costly, time consuming process, and the court likely couldn’t stop the dog barking, but could require the owner to pay you for your inconvenience. It might be an incentive to make him move the dog elsewhere.

  • Also, can you figure out who owns the lot? If it isn’t the guy keeping the dog there just the “threat” of a lawsuit might encourage the owners of the lot to make him move the dog.

  • Call your Ward Councilperson’s office and ask for help! They love sucking up to constituents and I’ve found them to be quite effective.

  • To the OP and dc mom – PLEASE call the Washington Humane Society: , 202-BE-HUMANE

    Part of their mandate is to investigate and resolve cruelty cases, which includes isolation and neglect. Even if the dog’s fed and sheltered, it can still be suffering, and as the OP says may become a danger to others. It’s not normal for most healthy, happy dogs to bark all day. Please call the WHS and make the dogs’ (and your) lives better!!

  • 1. Talk to your neighbor. I had the same problem, and it was hard, but she made it slightly better.
    2. THe city does have dog barking regs. at article 18 sec. 1 : No person shall keep . . . any animal of the dog kind which shall by bartking, howling or by any manner whatsoever disturb the comfort or quiet of any neighborhood or person. The enabling statute is 1-303.41 and the leading case on dog barking is Parry-Hill v DC, 291 A2d 505 (DC 1972).

  • Also, I bought my neighbor a bark collar. Knocked on her door, asked her to use it, showed her the statute, explained that the Humane Society endorses the device, and thanked her for her cooperation. INTEK makes the best one, $99. Peace and quiet: priceless. 🙂

  • Invisible Dog Fences have evolved over the past 25 years. The expensive and somewhat ugly chain link dog fences have fallen by the wayside in favor of the new electronic dog fences, which use invisible radio waves. Dogs have a habit of jumping over or digging under chain link dog fences or other solid barrier dog fences. An Invisible Fence is a good idea if you want to keep your dog safe. A wireless dog fence is great because you never have to worry about fixing broken wires. A Wireless Pet Fence is a good option for pet containment.

  • antifreeze

  • I highly recommend you contact the Humane Society, I have contacted them twice to investigate 2 different incidences (1 being animal cruelty, the other barking issues all night LONG!). They came out for both and solved the issues.

  • I have a similar situation… new tenant/neighbor, gets a puppy, leaves it outside all day, no grass-sidewalk and deck only. The dog barks frequently from 6:30 until 8:30am and then from 6:30-10pm (probably more during the day, but I’m not there). Why did you get a dog if you don’t want to take care of it? Why does a neighbor have to approach you and ask you to get your dog to stop barking? Can you not hear the freaking thing? Ignorance.

  • The original poster said that they have called Animal Control. If AC didn’t issue a ticket/remove the dog, there isn’t anything any other animal agency can do.

    My suggestion would be take matters into your own hands…find out the dogs name and stock up on some pig ears or other time-consuming treat. Next time it starts barking, talk to it using its name and give it teh treat. Repeat. Eventually, the barking will largely stop or will at least stop when you tell the dog to stop it…We did something similar to this with a dog that used to bark at us on our walk to and from home every day (we used left over pancakes).

  • I have called MPD twice about a dog barking at night. They informed me this is a legitimate complaint, responded to the scene, and the baking stopped. Call 911.

  • @ Anon 9:44 am –

    Please don’t call 911 FIRST. That’s for real emergencies. Call 311 and they’ll patch you through to the appropriate person to talk to.

  • Make a video of the barking dog, of the inhumane conditions and show it to ANC, MPD, and then YouTube it with a link to the address. Be a good way to shame the dog owner into doing something about their pet.

  • We have the same problem with barking that goes on endlessly. Several residents in our building are sleeping in their living rooms to be further from the noise.

    Coincidentally, we received this in our mailbox yesterday:

    “Have you been bothered by a dog
    in the neighborhood?

    We understand that dogs will bark, but this one in particular, on Monroe Street between 13th and 14th Streets, barks loudly for unreasonable lengths of time at all hours of the night.

    Several residents have tried, unsuccessfully, to speak with the owners about the noise. We would like to contact the owners again to reach a solution, and we would like the support of as many neighbors as possible.

    If you have been affected please email:
    [email protected]

    Also, there is a discussion of this dog here:

  • Unfortunately, this dog is likely being trained for dog fighting. I would personally drop a dime to FBI and see if they were interested. They seem to have a task force on this….

  • DC Mom: I think that there is some sort of law, regulation, whatever, that you cannot chain a dog, at all, ever, for any reason in DC. Our neighbor chained her dog one time – I called animal control – they came right over issued a citation and she never chained the dog again. I found that Animal COntrol in DC was very helpful and took the time to make sure that all was well with the animals next door.

  • I’ve never understand why some men seem to think that a big dog is an extension of their penis – a visible symbol of how big and powerful they are (or want to be). I guess since they can’t (legally) pack a gun, they’ll just pack a pit bull instead…

  • Kalorini: You’re wrong about 311/911. That changed at least a year ago. 311 has replaced old call center (727-1000) and you only call 311 for city services. For police/fire/rescue, no matter how minor, you have to call 911…is it a jacked up way of doing things? Yup, but you can thank Adrian Fenty for that.

  • @Another Anon,

    What type of dog is it? Something that looks like an airedale? I live on 13th between Park and Monroe. We sleep in a street-side room of our house so we don’t have any trouble with barking, but there’s a dog a couple of fences over in the back that tends to bark when I’m in my back yard. It will usually knock it off when I talk to it, but it tends to always be there. I know folks in your building have been having trouble with this for a while. If this is the dog that’s causing the trouble, I’d support the cause. Once we get around to putting a patio in our yard, that dog will be a problem for us, too.

  • There is a large German Shepherd being kept in a fenced empty lot on 5th St NW between Taylor and Shepherd. Does anyone know who’s dog it is? I worry about the poor guy.

    Prince: Please remove the antifreeze comments

  • Two words: Rat Poison. The dog might get out and hurt someone, or it may get mamed or killed in a dog fight that it is obviously beng trained for.
    Killing it really is the only humane thing to do. Why let the dog, or someone else suffer.
    Are there little kids in the neighborhood? Why risk it, just put it down and be done with it.

  • @Kevin

    I am pretty sure that is the dog that is being discussed.

  • start with a polite note written to the owner explaining how loud and annoying the dog is. Just tac it to their front door. This should help! Encourage your other neighbors to do the same.

  • I can’t believe all the antifreeze/poison comments. “rg” @ 10:22 at least tried to justify it, but I think decisions about which dogs are too dangerous should be left to the humane society and other groups experienced with those decisions – not keyboard vigilantes.

    Call the Humane Society, call the property owner, call the police, and maybe the FBI dogfighting people. I’d imagine you’ll have better luck with the cruelty angle than the noise angle, both in terms of getting the dog off the property and penalizing the owner.

  • @Nick (10:16)

    That’s exactly the one – it’s the black and brown airedale. We know which house it is coming from, and we, and several others have tried talking to the owners, and were met with a variety of unhelpful and increasingly rude responses.

    We are all the way over on Park, but our building (and the majority of bedrooms) face towards that area we all share in the back, and we probably haven’t had a decent night of sleep (or two in a row) since these people got the dog nine months or so ago.

    Email the address on that flyer – [email protected] and hopefully we can get enough people together that they will have to listen.

    I would completely support the idea someone posted above – buying them a $99 bark collar – which I’ve been telling my wife from the beginning I would be happy to do. I just doubt their willingness to accept/use it considering their reactions so far. Still, the more people suffering, perhaps the more likely they will listen to reason.

    The amazing thing to us is that the dog doesn’t make the owners themselves crazy. It was barking continuously two nights ago to the point I didn’t sleep from about 3:30am onward. How they can sleep through I can’t possibly imagine.

  • Call the Washington Humane Society, they will investigate. They may not have direct legal recourse to take the pet (depending on the conditions), but if the dog owner finds themselves with a uniformed officer knocking on their door every couple weeks, I can assure you they will probably take steps to avoid the scrutiny.

  • @AnotherAnon: One thing I thought of when I was in this situation a long time ago (before it was resolved amicably by talking to the neighbor – but it sounds like that isn’t working here) is get yourself a good quality microphone and make a tape recording of the dog barking. Pull it into your computer, doctor it up to be as annoying as possible, and play it at full volume in their direction. Preferably when THEY are sleeping (which is apparently not the same time most people are). Yeah, you’ll bug the shit out of everyone in the neighborhood for a week, but it will be sweet.

  • LMAO!!!
    I bet the dog is wondering, “what can I do about all these annoying ass people.”

  • @JohnnyReb…perhaps you were referring to the powerful part, but pit bulls are not big dogs. They are smaller than labs, goldens, German shepherds, etc. Again, you could have been refering to the powerful part, which I totally agree with, but not the big part.

  • I understand that DPW, Ayanna Rocket from the Mayor’s office, and someone from Animal Control are over at the 5th street property right now, trying to deal with the situation.

    Matt G., Pennywise, and the anonymouses who posted antifreeze comments, if possible, should have their IP addresses banned. At the very least, their comments should be deleted immediately.

  • saf

    I’m horrified by how many people are advocating poisoning the dog. You people should be ashamed of yourselves.

  • Prince Of Petworth

    Recipes for killing dogs will not be accepted on this thread.

  • Hmm, I specifically said I was not advocating poisoning the dog…. What do you think happens if WHS picks him/her up? If its non-adoptable, it gets put down using a formula very similar to… antifreeze. So, by drawing attention to this dog you are putting its life at risk.

  • This is the owner’s fault not the dog’s.

    Here are some DC anti-cruelty laws:

    Citation: DC CODE

  • Pennywise – many local humane societies are no-kill, like the Washington Animal Rescue League. And no shelter puts dogs down with anything similar to antifreeze.

  • I am not advocating killing a dog for barking, thats just stupid. What i am advocating is eliminating a potentially dangerous animal. This is a course of action after all legitimate resources have been exhausted. I just dont want to read about this thing mauling some toddler is all.

    And I am not a vigilante, and I do in fact like dogs. Im just being realistic in that the rights of people and children are above that of some hoodrats fighting dog. I just dont see what the big deal is, the humane society puts dogs down every day. This isnt some families pet either, so it isnt being trained to protect someone or play with the family.

    Eliminate the threat and move on. Ya dont have to be happy about it or certainly not enjoying it but sometimes as an adult you actually have to do things that are not pleasent or morally grotesque to you.

  • oh give me a break pennywise. trying to justify the comments about poisoning the dog. If WHS picks up the dog – he/she may have a chance at having a happy life. They will evaluate the dog and determine whether or not the dog is adoptable, only then would they decide if the dog should be humanely euthanized, something which only takes a few seconds…….


  • WARL is no kill on adoptable pets, and puts down non-adoptables as far as I know. What do you think they do with fighting dogs, keep them forever on a farm? Anyways, whatever, I have a delightful rescue dog and no I won’t kill her. The cat might get her though…

  • “rg”, all everyone else is saying is, that “you are a moron”. I think you’re a moron too. It’s not a big deal and it doesn’t mean I wouldn’t like you in real life, it just means that your views are so out of the main stream and reasonable to the average person that it’s incomprehensible.

    If you’re introspective, try to figure out why. If you’re not, then just take it as everyone else on this forum is a moron and go about your day.

  • if this dog is being bred for dogfighting i think there’s a lot of delusion here about a happy ending to it’s life. it’s unlikely to be adoptable.

  • somewhat unrelated, does anybody know what’s up with all the people who use chains for their dogs instead of leashes? are people just not nice to dogs in some parts of dc?

  • Thanks Ragged, insulting but honest i will give you that. I of course realize that I have a minority opinion about many things. I do appreciate the opinions of others, but I think often times they are niave. I say that because my world view has changed a great deal over 20 years, I am no longer in line with the majority on this board as I would have been in younger days. I tell you this, because it happens often to people. It may happen to some on this board too.
    anywho, in the future, please keep in mind you may find my argument or opinion moronic. Which is fine. i.e. separate the message from the sender, so to speak.
    Oddly enough I dont think anyone elses opinion is mornic, or that they are morons for having them. But i guess that is the difference between you and I.

  • The post indicates Animal Control has been there twice and approves of the situation. In DC, animal control is managed by Washington Humane Society, see:

    So please stop offering the panacea.

    Sorry again about the antifreeze bit, everyone, I swear I was against it! My doggie is looking at me very pointedly.

  • I had this exact situation at my old apartment. Our neighbor left her dogs outside in a tiny alley way all day – and they loved to bark. They also used to aggressively charge anything in the alley.

    My landlord installed one of those devices that emit sounds that dogs don’t like whenever a dog barks. Though he pointed it at the neighbor’s building, it didn’t work that well because OUR building was pet friendly and after about a week of OUR dogs howling in response to the device’s sounds we agreed to take out the batteries.

    Second, we tried talking to them. The woman denied that she left the dogs outside and claimed that it was her son’s responsibility to bring them in and that they always came in, they were show dogs, blah blah blah.

    Finally, we called the cops when the barking started. They have to show up, but if they do AND they hear the barking they can issue a ticket. Couple of dozens of calls and THOUSANDS of dollars in tickets later it stopped. Mostly.

    Best of luck. It is not easy, but both the dog and you deserve better!

  • Take pictures. Call Jim Graham. email him the photos. see what happens. then email the Post.

  • So it’s not okay to suggest ways how to kill a dog (i’m assuming mostly in jest) but it’s okay for people on this blog to suggest that certain areas of DC should to be closed off where everyone who lives in that area can have a gun so they all can just blow each other away. Now that is f*cked up.

  • Finally, someone has hit the nail on the head and called everyone out – way to go Naomi and thank you. I wish I had thought of that. Any responses? I cannot wait to hear them.

  • What kind of psycho keeps a “military attack dog” on a vacant lot in the middle of the city? Seems to me the dog’s owner, the guy who shows up a few hours a day to train the dog and then leaves it to bark all the rest of the time, is the one you need to watch out for. Somebody should trail him back to the house where he sleeps, bet you’d find grounds for arrest on MORE animal abuse charges. And probably a huge stash of autmoatic weapons and a list of enemies that includes the U.S. government, his first girlfriend and his third grade teacher.

  • I’d follow him myself if I didn’t have kids to look after when I’m not working. Any aspiring private eyes/animal lovers out there up for a stakeout? Might be quite romantic if you bring a fast car, a flask and a thermos of coffee. Don’t forget the tennis ball can, to pee in. What I am saying is, trying to solve this with the polite niceties you’d use with, say, an oblivious neighbor, is not going to work in this situation.

  • Petworth Newbie is right. The owner is at fault. The dog is a victim. A few days ago, I sat down on the sidewalk next to the dog for about 15 minutes. I think he is actually a nice dog, but I don’t know for how much longer. Neglect is bound to take its toll on his personality sooner rather than later.

  • saf

    Naomi and Agree – do you not see the people arguing against that thought when it is posted? I do.

    Neither is ok.

  • I don’t know Eric in LeDroit, there could be a happy ending. They’ve been able to rehabilitate a bunch of Michael Vick’s dogs (I think only one was actually put down) and a couple live in homes with children and one is even a service dog that goes to hospitals.

    BTW, whoever suggested calling the Grahamstander, I’m not so sure about that…several times he’s tried to get pit bull and aggressive dog legislation through so he might not be so helpful….

  • Here’s another option. Saw it a couple years ago. Does anyone know who runs the doggy underground railroad.

    “Type “Dog Rescue” into Google and you will get 4,650,000 hits. Nobody knows precisely how many people are involved in the rescue movement, but it’s reasonable to assume there are tens of thousands, in every city and state. (If you doubt this, visit, one of the rescue culture’s primary communications networks.)”

  • For me it’s the fact that PoP has never issued such a warning about people’s suggestions for dealing with criminals. But it’s his blog and he can issue warnings as he sees fit. I just agreed with the irony that Naomi pointed out.

  • Not sure what’s so complicated: Several people have confirmed that calling 911 works and is the proper procedure. Why involve all these other offices and agencies that have no authority? Call 911.

  • The statements about criminals are clearly facetious. The statements about poisoning animals are not as clearly facetious so Pop is rightfully being a bit more cautious there.

    Just the other day, I asked someone working for a management company taking care of our neighbor’s home who was applying weed killer next door what chemicals he was using. I told him I was worried that the feral cats (my rat control team) hang out in the alley, and I was wondering if the chemicals were highly toxic and could harm them. His response was that his friends kill feral cats and explained how (similar method to some earlier suggestions). I told him I wasn’t looking take care of them, not kill them, but ever since then, I’ve been worried something bad will happen to my rat patrol.

  • That should say “I was looking to take care of them” oops.

  • Actually, suggestions that players in the drug game have designated dueling grounds are not facetious. Fantastic, perhaps, but not facetious. It’s a question of willing participant vs. innocent bystander. I don’t give a rat’s ass if the thugs want to kill each other. I just don’t want them doing it in front of Five Guys or anywhere else a non-thug could be involved.

    Similarly, I don’t want some sadist victimizing an animal, be it through neglect or dogfighting or an antifreeze cocktail. It’s not a level playing field, and the dog didn’t volunteer for this.

  • Mmm…I wouldn’t be so sure that the comments about putting down people are facetious, yatrakarna. There are people who refer to other humans as “cockroaches” and “animals” on a fairly regular basis here. Though I sometimes see some arguing back, I less frequently see a call to actually delete the comment.

    So, I was actually strangely pleased to see at least see the intellectual consistency in some of our posters. They believe that if something’s bothering you around town, it needs killing. That’s keeping things simple.

  • I just walked by this poor doggy to see if his situation had changed. Unfortunately, no. Markus can you confirm that someone with the mayor’s office went out there? It looks like nothing has changed.

  • “The dogs bark and whine all day and night. If anyone walking by says anything to the dogs the neighbors complain that they are harrassing the dogs.”

    Maybe the dogs misunderstood what was being said to them and complained to their owners that they were harassing them?

  • I think you’re taking things out of context Christina, at least partially. As an author of both a cockroaches and an antifreeze statement I’m really on a roll, so lemme continue. My cockroaches statement yesterday clearly said ‘thugs are like cockroaches’, not ‘humans in dc are cockroaches’ or anything like that. I’d stand by the thugs = cockroaches statement, though I was misunderstood on the antifreeze one. And honestly, I don’t feel comfortable calling the average thug a human, though they are biologically. Humanity to me involves some level of civility, which is not apparent when, for example, you gun down an innocent woman because you see a rival across the street. To turn the tables, are you glorifying or defending thugs like that? I doubt it…

  • Pennywise, I just think it’s too easy to go down a really bad road when you start to think that some kinds of humans are “animals” or cockroaches, and some are more “evolved.” (I know you didn’t say “evolved,” that was someone else.) If that’s “glorifying” criminality…I don’t know. I guess we have differing ideas about that. But we’re cool otherwise, a’ight? 🙂 I’m not defending murderers.

  • if this is the dog on 5th st …i on that block and i can tell you i still hear him barking as im reading this post….months ago that lot had a sign up from the dc gov’t saying the owner of the lot ( whom i wish i had written down the name and address) had so many days to clean it up or else they work and charge x amount of money to do so…within the time frame…the fence was up and the dog was living in it…i used to see a man with the dog..he was telling the dog no in german one day ( but having almost gotten a german shep puppy, that’s common training)..there was also once a young puppy in the lot with him, which i haven’t seen in some time…i also haven’t seen the man in the yard in some time….i was wondering how the dog was surviving outside in that oppressive heat we had a few weeks ago…i can’t imagine he gets fresh food and water every day, let alone exercise and some love…the fence doesn’t look like its very secure and i’ve wondered if the dog could jump on the fence and take it down

    there also seems to be quite an accumlation of junk/trash in the back of the lot i wondered if a complaint could be done about that and then attention would be brought to the dog.

    the dog only seems to be aggressive when someone gets close to the lot and with the accumlation of stuff and big leafy plants makes me wonder if something more is going on there and the dog’s been trained to scare people away

  • The “training” is almost certainly being done for pay. Is the lot zoned for this type of business? If not, go after the owner of the lot, and/or the trainer, for operating a business in violation of zoning. Also find out if the business is properly registered with the city. Don’t know? Just asking in a pointed manner, with CCs all over God’s creation, can help pressure the property owner to push this dog training operation off his/her property.

    Also go after the state of the property. Harangue DCRA regarding the property, go to DCRA and ask to see the file. If DCRA has cited them, without any action or followup, include that in letters to your council member, ANC reps, and be sure to shame the city into action by sending copies to media, blogs, listservs.

    Bring the heat down on the lot owner, and the people who show up daily. Leave aggressive notes: “Neighbors are photographing you, and you WILL be included in complaints to police and city agencies.” Send similar notes, with no return address, to the property owner. Nothing illegal about that, just exercising your free speech.

    When people fuck with your quality of life, fuck ’em back.

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